By By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Desiree D. Smith, Naval Special Warfare Group 2 Public Affairs
VIRGINA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Commander, Naval Special Warfare Group (CNSWG-2) TWO held a change of command ceremony at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Aug. 22nd.
Capt. Peter G. Vasely relieved Capt. Robert E. Smith, who served at the helm of CNSWG-2 since Aug. 2012. Rear Adm. Brian Losey, Commander, Naval Special Warfare Command, was the guest speaker for the ceremony.
"The change of command ceremony is a time-honored naval tradition, all hands would muster on deck and witness the formal transfer of authority from one commander to another," said Losey.
Rear Adm. Losey spoke to an audience of more than 350 Naval Special Warfare (NSW) personnel, family, and friends about the accomplishments of CNSWG-2 and the forward deployed forces during Capt. Smith's tenure as well as the shift in direction that he directly supported during his tour.
"He's done a tremendous job in realizing the vision of the continent of Africa," said Losey. "Capt. Smith not only postured there from a command and control standpoint but coordinated with the State Department in each of the countries to remain postured to respond to U.S. unilateral interest if, and when necessary."
Rear Adm. Losey continued, "He has put Group TWO out front in one of the most contentious conflict zones in the world and that's East Africa. Think Sudan, Somalia, and then all of the boundary states such as Ethiopia and Kenya and it's only 18 nautical miles away from where some of the most focused unspoken fighting is occurring in respect to Yemen."
"Admiral William McRaven's number one priority is to win the current fight, and the current fight is being manifested in Afghanistan and he kept the force to the fire and for the last 13 years NSW has been recognized with two Medals of Honor, 58 Navy Cross Medals, 94 Silver Star Medals, and over 2600 Bronze Star Medals with Valor," said Losey. "We've had 77 teammates killed-in-action and 270 wounded and that is no small amount of sacrifice or commitment."
Rear Adm. Losey closed his remarks by saying, "Capt. Smith has done a tremendous job helping evolve our force." Rear Adm. Losey then called the military personnel present to attention and asked the guests to rise as he awarded the Legion of Merit Medal to Capt. Smith for his accomplishments while in command of CNSWG-2. Rear Adm. Losey then turned the floor over to Capt. Smith.
Commander, Naval Special Warfare Group TWO's primary focus rested heavily on Afghanistan when Capt. Smith assumed command in 2012.
"Within the first six months Rear Adm. Sean Pybus and Losey, both challenged us as they challenged every major commander in NSW," recalled Smith. "The challenge was what do we do after Afghanistan, how are we relevant and how does this force continue to serve the American public to ensure security across the globe? It wasn't just the challenge but the empowerment, and they empowered us to reach out to the fleet and operational commanders to engage with them to find out what their needs were to shape our force to their needs, and as we did that, we leveraged that empowerment to make Group TWO relevant,"
Smith ended his remarks saying, "Pete, you're getting a great command, they are ready. I couldn't think of a better person to turn this command over to because from the Naval Academy to Coronado, the East Coast and to D.C., I think it made us both stronger people and this mission is going to continue forward and you're the right man to lead it."
Capt. Smith and Capt. Vasely then read their orders. The two then met in front of Rear Adm. Losey to ceremoniously execute the change of command before Capt. Vasely addressed the command for the first time as the commanding officer.
"As we look at this transition, it comes at a very challenging time and a period of great uncertainty where our country faces a multi-faceted series of threats from violent extremist organizations. One thing that is absolutely certain is the competence, capability of the force to fight, and willingness to win the hardest challenges that are thrown at it," said Vasely.
Capt. Vasely continued his remarks by stating, "I am honored that you and the NSW community have entrusted me with the responsibility to major command and I'm committed to the responsibility of being in command of Group TWO. I'm committed to the men and women of Group TWO to provide you with clear vision, guidance and direction so that you are enabled to continue to excel in executing this nation's toughest missions, and also to your families for being the rock and foundation of everything we do and the commitment they so justly deserve,"